A Great Collection Of Sermons Of The Curé Of Ars (Saint John Vianney, T.O.S.F)
John Vianney (born Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney; 8 May 1786 – 4 August 1859), venerated as Saint John Vianney, was a French Catholic priest who is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as the patron saint of parish priests. He is often referred to as the “Curé d’Ars” (i.e. the parish priest of Ars), internationally known for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish in Ars, France, because of the radical spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings. Catholics attribute this to his saintly life, mortification, persevering ministry in the sacrament of confession, and ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His feast day is August 4 in the Novus Ordo calendar, is August 8 in the Missal of 1962 calendar, and is August 9 in the pre-1955 calendar.
In 1818, shortly after the death of Balley, Vianney was appointed parish priest of the parish of Ars, a town of 230 inhabitants. When Vianney’s bishop first assigned him to Ars, he got lost trying to find the town. Two young men tending flocks in the fields pointed him in the right direction. With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls.
As parish priest, Vianney realized that the Revolution’s aftermath had resulted in religious ignorance and indifference, due to the devastation wrought on the Catholic Church in France. At the time, Sundays in rural areas were spent working in the fields, or dancing and drinking in taverns. Vianney spent time in the confessional and gave homilies against blasphemy and paganic dancing. If his parishioners did not give up this dancing, he refused them absolution.
Vianney came to be known internationally, and people from distant places began travelling to consult him as early as 1827.
“By 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached 20,000 a year. During the last ten years of his life, he spent 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional. Even the bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of the souls awaiting him yonder”.
He spent at least 11 or 12 hours a day in the confessional during winter, and up to 16 in the summer. In his article “How does the Church Respond to Suicide?” Shaun McAfee references an incident described in the book Cure of Ars:
“…a woman…told….Vianney that she was devastated because her husband had committed suicide. She wanted to approach the great priest but his line often lasted for hours and she could not reach him. She was ready to give up and in a moment of mystical insight that only a great saint can receive,…Vianney exclaimed through the crowd, “He is saved!” The woman was incredulous so the saint repeated, stressing each word, “I tell you he is saved. He is in Purgatory, and you must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.”
Vianney had a great devotion to Saint Philomena. Vianney regarded her as his guardian and erected a chapel and shrine in honor of the saint. During May 1843, Vianney fell so ill he thought that his life was coming to its end. Vianney attributed his cure to her intercession.
Vianney yearned for the contemplative life of a monk, and four times ran away from Ars, the last time in 1853. He was a champion of the poor as a Franciscan tertiary and was a recipient of the coveted French Legion of Honour.
On 4 August 1859, Vianney died at the age of 73. The bishop presided over his funeral with 300 priests and more than 6,000 people in attendance. Before he was buried, Vianney’s body was fitted with a wax mask.
On 3 October 1874 Pope Pius IX proclaimed him “venerable”; on 8 January 1905, Pope Pius X declared him Blessed and proposed him as a model to the parochial clergy. In 1925 John Mary Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XI, who in 1929 made him patron saint of parish priests. In 1928 his feast day was inserted into the General Roman Calendar for celebration on 9 August. Pope John XXIII’s 1960 revision, in which the Vigil of Saint Lawrence had a high rank, moved the feast to 8 August. Finally, the 1969 revision placed it on 4 August, the day of his death.
In 1959, to commemorate the centenary of John Vianney’s death, Pope John XXIII issued the encyclical letter Sacerdotii nostri primordia. John Paul II visited Ars in person in 1986 in connection with the bicentenary of Vianney’s birth and referred to him as a “rare example of a pastor acutely aware of his responsibilities … and a sign of courage for those who today experience the grace of being called to the priesthood.”
In honor of the 150th anniversary of Vianney’s death, Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of the Priest, running from the Feast of the Sacred Heart 2009–2010.
Pope Benedict XVI declared 19 June 2009 – 19 June 2010 the Year of the Priests to encourage priests to strive for spiritual perfection. In the Pope’s words the Curé d’Ars is “a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ’s flock.”